#MonthlyPicks | What Does a Jazz Legend Love about Queens?
BY QEDC It's In Queens
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, but don’t forget that its name comes from Juno, a Roman goddess. Thus, we catch up with a local music deity, Carol Sudhalter, who founded the Astoria Big Band and leads Flushing Town Hall’s Louis Armstrong Legacy Monthly Jazz Jams. (She plays saxophone and flute better than most people walk.) Please read on to find out what a multi-instrumentalist loves about a multicultural borough.
I absolutely love Agnanti Meze, a wonderful Greek restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard by Astoria Park. I’m not a huge eater, but you can get an amazing variety of really tasty appetizers, or meze, there. My favorite one is charcoal broiled salmon wrapped in grape leaf. They also serve a very tasty dish with mushrooms in a dough pocket. The appetizers are so delicious that you forget to save room for dinner! The place is small, but it’s very family friendly, and it has beautiful ambiance with an outdoor porch. Plus, it’s very close to the water. You can tell I love Greek cuisine because my other favorite place is Psari Seafood Restaurant & Bar, whose slogan is “Eat Fish, Live Longer!” They have fantastic, fresh seafood. I’ve brought friends who were visiting from Rome there, and they said the food was comparable to what you get in Italy!
I simply love to wander by Hell Gate in Astoria, a tidal strait by the East River. This is the deepest and most ferocious part of the waterway. It’s a beautiful spot where you can see a gorgeous panorama. At sunset, it’s incomparable. I bring visitors there all the time. My other favorite walk is right behind my home along the waterfront: starting with stunning Rainey Park in the vicinity of Vernon Boulevard and 33rd Road and then going north to Costco with its pretty waterfront replete with many benches. Next comes the marvelous Socrates Sculpture Park; continuing north, you’ll discover a little beach where kayaking takes place during the warm weather months. Next to that, a wonderful area where a cement wall allows you to lean and ponder the skyline, along with other local residents! And now, the north border of my walk has expanded to the relatively new NYC Ferry landing! The service is a magical addition, and besides the fact that I love riding it, my dream is to get a grant so I can play jazz on the landing. It’s a wonderful place.
Well, definitely Flushing Town Hall. It’s a majestic landmark on Northern Boulevard that had all this history before it became a hub for arts and culture. In pristine condition, it still looks like a town hall, and it once was a jail. The venue is part of the borough’s Jazz history and where we present monthly Louis Armstrong Jazz Jams. The other place that I love is right near my house – a building that was once the Sohmer & Company Piano Factory, kind of a cousin to Steinway. The 1886 building went through many iterations; it received historical protection as per the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2007, and it made the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Now it’s condominiums called “The Piano Factory.” It’s distinct, and you can see its green dome and clock from across the East River.
I’m more of a salt person! So, I want to give a shoutout to one of our borough’s great Greek supermarkets, Mediterranean Foods on 34th Street between 30th and 31st avenues. They have a giant assortment of olives – and for half what you’d pay in Manhattan. They have fresh herring and grape leaves, sardines, and a wonderful selection of Greek cheeses – everything that I love to snack on!
Top image: Carol Sudhalter; Bottom image: Psari